Why the numbers of e-book resisters are growing

At PaidContent, Laura Hazard Owen reports on the recent Verso study that showed over half of book buyers are “not at all likely” to buy an e-reader in the next year, up from 2009. Owen talked to representatives from Verso who suggested that, to the resistant, e-readers aren’t yet better enough than print books to suit them, they don’t like reading off of screens, and they like being able to rummage through books in physical stores to find new books they might never otherwise have considered.

She also notes that teenagers lag behind other age groups in e-book adoption, pointing to a Bowker’s presentation that said teens like to do things socially and DRMed e-books are too restricted for the ways teens want to use them.

Nobody seems to have touched on one relatively simple explanation for why the percentage of e-book resistant seems to be growing—it’s that more and more people already have an e-reader, so the number of people who don’t want them makes up a greater proportion of those who don’t have them yet.

As much as we like to make fun of “luddites” who hate e-books, the survey shows there are a significant chunk of people who feel that way, and they’ll be with us (and influencing the book sales market) for a long time,

10 Comments on Why the numbers of e-book resisters are growing

  1. “Nobody seems to have touched on one relatively simple explanation for why the percentage of e-book resistant seems to be growing—it’s that more and more people already have an e-reader, so the number of people who don’t want them makes up a greater proportion of those who don’t have them yet.

    Sorry Chris …. but can someone please tell me that this paragraph makes any sense at all ? :)

    Ok so let’s assume, just for fun, that this report has even a semblance of truth in it … and “over half of book buyers are “not at all likely” to buy an e-reader in the next year, up from 2009″.

    This does NOT mean that those who claim that they are ‘not at all likely to buy an e-reader in the next year’ are not likely to do so because they don’t want one or have a problem with eBooks. For one thing, in the current economic climate it is highly likely that many of them know that their budget simply doesn’t stretch to a luxury item such as this. In my personal experience many who don’t intend to buy one turn into avid eBook readers once they receive one as a present :) Many others just don’t use gadgets and it isn’t an active dislike of eReading.

    Where I do go along with some aspects of this article and the report is that eBooks, though they are most definitely the future of reading, still have ‘issues’ that are off putting to many people.

    The DRM, the geo restrictions, the device restrictions, the attempts by publishers to change the meaning of ‘ownership’, the inability to share.

    All of these issues are imho definitely slowing the progress toward a digital reading world and will slow it down more if they are not dealt with. The issues about screens and discoverability are a nonsense and I don’t believe they are real issues.

    The issue about teenagers is also hardly important except to teen market writers. Teens are inevitably contrarian. I have one. They are at a ghastly messed up stage in life and don’t know their ass from their elbow :-)

  2. I like to make the point that no one is saying how many books the non-ereader folks actually buy. How many books do you have to buy each year to count as a “book buyer”? Has anyone counted up the percentage in terms of books bought instead of people buying them?

  3. Do I have to have a reason to just like physical books?

  4. Resonating on what @Howard said, publishers have made the huge mistake of thinking that eBooks need to be better than pBooks for them instead of thinking that eBooks have to be better than pBooks for their customers. Physical/paper books are incredibly cheap on the secondary book market. If it can be found in the secondary market, why pay more for less?

  5. Frank Lowney wrote:
    Physical/paper books are incredibly cheap on the secondary book market. If it can be found in the secondary market, why pay more for less?
    ———-
    Maybe because some people need to have a larger font than those incredibly cheap paper books have? Some don’t have a CHOICE between the e-book and the paper book. If the library does not have a large print edition of a book, then the only alternative for someone visually impaired who wishes to read it is to do it on an e-reader. Not only are large print books not ubiquitous, but they are also expensive, even on the secondary market.

  6. I would answer Frank’s question “why pay more for less?” How about convenience? The ability to have hundreds of books at my fingertips and being able to carry them with me wherever I go is a big win for me.

  7. Howard: Say that out of 100 people, 10 will absolutely never buy e-book readers. 10%.

    Then say that 80 of those people end up getting e-book readers. That leaves 10 who might get e-readers, and 10 who won’t. Still the same 10 people, but now they make up 50% of the 20 who don’t have e-readers yet.

    I suspect that may be what’s happening here. It’s not that resistance to e-readers is “growing”, but that those who are already resistant make up a greater percentage of those who don’t have e-readers yet. Still the same people as they were; there just aren’t as many people without e-readers yet for them to make up a percentage of.

  8. Chris – Yes, I get your explanation now … :) thanks for that.

    Is that the same as the statement at the start of the article though ? the one that says “over half of book buyers are “not at all likely” to buy an e-reader in the next year, up from 2009″

    In your model the resistant percentage of non-eReader owners is growing, but in the sentence above (and in the referenced survey) the percentage of ALL book buyers is growing.

  9. To be honest, I don’t know. That’s why it was just a guess. I wouldn’t expect a survey to ask people who already had an e-reader whether they were going to buy one, as that wouldn’t make sense, but the article doesn’t really clarify whether they did or not. I can’t really imagine any other scenario where that many people go from agnostic to outright opposing e-readers.

  10. “Nobody seems to have touched on one relatively simple explanation for why the percentage of e-book resistant seems to be growing—it’s that more and more people already have an e-reader, so the number of people who don’t want them makes up a greater proportion of those who don’t have them yet.”

    This thought accords with some others in publishing that there is a natural balance of print and screen book interaction yet to be realized. Something like an equilibrium between print and television. The equilibrium would not be based on units sold but on market saturation for each delivery/display method. This could end up with multiple magnitudes of screen units per print units sold yet each sector becomes fully sustainable and neither restrained from full market presence.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*



wordpress analytics